(urth) Castleview and Arthuriana

Craig Brewer cnbrewer at yahoo.com
Wed May 16 19:44:16 PDT 2007


I’m so glad you took another look at the book (and at
my ideas). The more I think about it, the more I agree
that the jumbled mythologies are so “messy” that it
may not be fruitful to try to untangle them all.
Hopefully, that confusion is the point in this case,
that “Faerie” in all its forms is mysterious.
Otherwise, I feel either that I’m not that great a
reader of this book or that Wolfe created something
overly tangled.

>>Why the hell was the Green Man riding Odin's horse?
>What does the Green Man have to do with the Wild

Great questions (and typical, I think). I know that
some versions of the Wild Hunt associate it with the
coming of a great person’s death, so perhaps it’s the
death of Spring/Green Man?

>>A lot of the confusion is due to Wolfe mixing
>mythologies. <g>

Indeed. My question now is what to make of those
mixes, either in general or in particular instances.

>>Besides, the trouble at the camp started well before
>Shields came to town. Wrangler was the general object
>of those attentions. The phantom castle had been
>for about a century before either man was born.
>Wrangler's family had been involved one way or
>with the castle for generations.

All this seems right. Does that mean, then, that when
Dr.vM and Morgan yell about kings, they’re talking
about different ones? She’s talking about Wrangler and
the Dr.vM is talking about Shields?

>>Once the battle began, Seth tossed Excalibur to
>Wrangler. It's not clear that Wrangler ever used it;
>made more use of his brother's forty-four. The battle
>ended almost as soon as it began. Back at the camp,
>Wrangler stored the sword in the bottom of his
>brother's old trunk-- minus the scabbard.

I thought Seth had it at the end. (I don’t have my
copy with me here.) But that was why I wondered if he
was to be another Arthur figure.

>>The Malory quote at the front of the book said that
>the scabbard was more valuable than the sword because
>it was a specific against loss of blood. In the
>epilogue, the empty scabbard hung above Shields'
>oceanic bed. The scabbard had done (if Shields was
>truly the "dead" king Dr. vM spoke of), and would do,
>neither man any good unless or until it .was reunited
>with the sword.

Good point. Getting the sword and scabbard back
together again is a different kind of mythological
future than Arthur returning for the glory of
Castleview? Something else?

>>And exactly what kind of being was the doctor? What
>sort of dog/wolf could take the form of a man? And
>or what was the large "wild-eyed, riderless hunter"
>followed the Green Man into the courtyard (273)? A
>favored hound from the Huntsman's pack?

Perhaps. But then he also claims to be from a society
that seems rather set on discovering (and quelling?)
supernatural occurrences. So he’s either
anti-“supernatural” (which is obviously wrong) or in
some antagonistic faction
but antagonistic to

>>The Arthurian material has been too distorted and
>tangled up with other stuff.

I’m starting to think that’s true. It makes some of
the Arthurian material seem, if not a red herring, at
least occasionally misleading in its broader

>>The literal fall of Excalibur to Earth from a
>destroyed planet has no place at all in Arthuriana
>(245). But Fee's true form seems to be that of an
>alien(262). Messy.

And it’s with the aliens that I want to throw up my
hands (or treat it as some master key, which I have
trouble with as well).

no mysteries solved but more questions raised. If
we come to think that this book is essentially
knotted, that at least does give a very interesting
counter-example to the common notion that all of
Wolfe’s “puzzles” can be solved by discerning readers.
It also makes me question whether some of the puzzles
in the other works are supposed to remain so. That
said, it raises some other interesting questions about
the literary merit of “puzzles” like this: what
purpose(s) do they serve when they are solvable and
when they are opaque. After all, puzzles and ambiguity
have very different interpretive consequences.

Again, thanks for taking the time to reread the book
(and my earlier post)!


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